Automating Focus Mode via Calendar Events (MacSparky Labs)

I think Focus Modes are underrated and underused. I’m going to be covering this more in the Labs as we lead up to the release of macOS Ventura and iOS 16. As a starting point, I’m running a new experiment where I’m triggering Focus Modes from Calendar events. It’s early days, but I’ve got it working…

This is a post for MacSparky Labs Level 3 (Early Access) Members only. Care to join? Or perhaps do you need to sign in?

iWork Updates

We got some nice updates to the iWork suite this week:

  • Mailing Lists are back in Pages after a nine-year hiatus.
  • New templates were added for event invitations and student certificates.
  • Keynote now has dynamic backgrounds that move subtly underneath your slides.
  • Keynote now lets you skip (or unskip) collapsed groups of slides.
  • Numbers is better at inserting rows and columns in large tables.

You can download the updates in the various App Stores. All of this is good (particularly the mail merge) but also demonstrates further why Apple should split more of its productivity apps out of the core operating systems and make them independent apps with independent teams.

SaneBox (Sponsor)

This week, summer officially began with the summer solstice (I live in the Northern Hemisphere). It’s the longest day of the year, or at least the day with the longest period of sunlight. Will you be stuck inside all summer dealing with your email? You don’t have to be. You can make this fantasy a reality with SaneBox, MacSparky’s sponsor this week.

You can get your inbox a whole lot cleaner. How? You’ll train SaneBox to figure out what are important and unimportant emails to you. The emails don’t disappear. The unimportant ones go to your new SaneLater folder, allowing you to focus on what’s important. You’ll keep the distractions at bay, and can delete the unimportant ones later, all at once. You’ll get an email digest each day that summarizes what’s in your SaneLater folder, and if you see something that shouldn’t be there, you can train SaneBox to re-direct it to the right place. Get your email sanity back. Get your time back. Enjoy the longer days, the warmth of the sun, and the fresh air, and get out from those emails that are wasting your time. Give it a try with a free trial, and you can get a $10 credit you can use towards a SaneBox subscription.

Focused 154: Building a Second Brain, with Tiago Forte

Tiago Forte joins Mike and me on this episode of Focused to talk about his new book, building knowledge assets, and flipping the switch from consumer to creator.

This episode of Focused is sponsored by:

  • Indeed: Get a free $75 credit to upgrade your job post.
  • Timing: The automatic time tracking app for macOS. Use this link to save 10% on your purchase.
  • Setapp: Curated playlists to help you get things done. Search and follow ‘Setapp’ on Spotify.

Sabbaticals, Long and Short

Sabbaticals have been a frequent topic on the Focused podcast. However, I use the term sabbatical pretty loosely here. I’m not referencing the structured academic sabbatical that we see in higher education, but something more in line with the Internet worker concept of sabbatical as pioneered, to my mind at least, by Sean McCabe.

Recently Jason Kottke announced he’s on a months-long sabbatical at That’s brave. When you pay for your shoes on the Internet and then take a few months off, there’s a chance that your readers will go somewhere else. John Gruber weighs in that you should take a sabbatical before you know you need one. He’s right.

While I like the idea, I have yet to successfully implement regular (even short) sabbaticals in my life. I think my depression-era parents etched “show up every day” on my retinas. It was pretty tricky to unplug when practicing law as a solo attorney. Clients need you constantly. Since ditching the legal career, I’ve been busy getting things rolling as exclusively MacSparky and sabbaticals still aren’t possible for the immediate future.

That doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea, though. And taken more broadly, that also doesn’t mean sabbaticals are something only for precious nerds that earn their living on the Internet. An occasionally forced retreat, for everyone, is a good idea. Whether you are “generating content” or selling insurance, taking a break, a true break, is where you get time to recharge and let those creative background processes between your ears grind out some answers. Sean McCabe has explained that a sabbatical doesn’t have to start out as a months (or years) long process. It could be as simple as a few days without commitments and space to think (or not think).

I intend to implement some form of a regular sabbatical as I get things sorted out here at MacSparky HQ. I’d encourage you to read Sean’s Sabbatical blog and at least consider the same for yourself.

Duplicate an Event to “Busy” Calendar with Shortcuts (MacSparky Labs)

I’ve had several Labs members ask me about an easy way to duplicate existing calendar events to a second “Busy” calendar so they share their availability without sharing event details. Here you go…

This is a post for MacSparky Labs Level 3 (Early Access) and Level 2 (Backstage) Members only. Care to join? Or perhaps do you need to sign in?

Sparky Summarizes the Platforms State of the Union (MacSparky Labs)

Every year, after the WWDC Keynote, Apple does a separate “State of the Platform” address where it breaks down the upcoming changes as they impact software developers. Where the WWDC Keynote is mostly for the public, the State of the Platform is mostly for developers. Nevertheless, there are a lot of good nuggets of information there that are useful to power users. In this audio, Sparky summarizes a few hours of video into 13 minutes…

This is a post for MacSparky Labs Members only. Care to join? Or perhaps do you need to sign in?

Mac Power Users 645: Live Q&A with Stephen and David

Stephen and I hosted a live webinar for this week’s Mac Power Users. We talked about the current crop of Apple’s betas and answered listener questions.

This episode of Mac Power Users is sponsored by:

  • 1Password: Have you ever forgotten a password? You don’t have to worry about that anymore. 
  • Fitbod: Get stronger, faster with a fitness plan that fits you. Get 25% off your membership.
  • Electric: Unbury yourself from IT tasks. Get a free pair of Beats Solo3 Wireless Headphones when you schedule a meeting.
  • Squarespace: Make your next move. Enter offer code MPU at checkout to get 10% off your first purchase.